First 'Spider-Man' preview filled with problems
'Guinea pig' audience rips show
November 29, 2010
Not even Spider-Man could avert this disaster.
Last night's opening pre view of Broadway's most expensive production ever, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," was an epic flop as the $65 million show's high-tech gadgetry went completely awry amid a dull score and baffling script, theatergoers griped.
Stunned audience members were left scratching their heads over the confusing plot -- when they weren't ducking for cover from falling equipment and dangling actors at the Foxwoods Theatre on West 42nd Street, some said.
At various points, overhead stage wires dropped on the audience, scenery appeared on stage missing pieces -- and the show's star was even left swaying helplessly over them midair during what was supposed to be the climatic end to the first act.
The production -- directed by Julie Taymor of "Lion King" fame and with a score by U2's Bono and The Edge -- appeared cursed from the start, audience members said.
It opened with Taymor's personal creation, the eight-legged female character Arachne, taking the stage.
The spider is the radioactive arachnid that bites Peter Parker, giving the photographer his superhuman Spider-Man powers.
As the character, played by actress Natalie Mendoza, finished her big number "Rise Above" while suspended over the crowd, an apparent wire malfunction left her stopped in midair -- where she remained for an embarrassing seven or eight minutes as stagehands worked feverishly to figure out the problem.
The stage manager finally said over the loudspeaker, "Give it up for Natalie Mendoza, who's hanging in the air!"
The show had to be stopped four times in the first act alone for various snags.
Parker's love interest, Mary Jane, was supposed to be saved from atop the Chrysler Building. But part of the building was missing, and Mary Jane was no where in sight.
As puzzled theater patrons looked around, Spider-Man -- played by Reeve Carney -- suddenly flew in with Mary Jane in his arms and put her down on stage.
He was then supposed to fly off in a dramatic end to the first act.
Instead, Spider-Man got stuck in midair and swung back and forth over the crowd as three stagehands leaped up and down futilely trying to grab onto one of his feet to haul him back to earth.
Another sticky situation involved Spider-Man nemesis Green Goblin, said disgruntled audience members.
As the Goblin -- played by Patrick Page of "Grinch" fame -- sat down at the piano for a scheduled number, he was left to continue playing on . . . and on . . . as stage workers openly rushed around to fix faulty equipment.
Page finally started vamping it up for grateful audience members, riffing on the tune, "I'll Take Manhattan."
"This is the best part of the whole show," grumbled theatergoer Steve Poizner of California.
The production dragged on for nearly 3½ hours.
In its last 10 minutes, the show was completely stopped for at least half that time to work out kinks.
"I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel like a guinea pig tonight!" one woman angrily shouted out from her orchestra seat during the down time.
"I feel this was a dress rehearsal!"
Taymor was at the preview, as was producer Michael Cohl, although Bono and The Edge were in Australia on tour with U2.